Victory a must for Canada at sitting volleyball Paralympic Games qualifier

Canadian Paralympic Committee

February 25, 2020

‘’I 100 percent believe in our team’’

2019 Danielle Ellis

HALIFAX – Danielle Ellis, the captain of Canada’s women’s sitting volleyball team, says her squad is fully prepared for this week’s last chance qualifying tournament for the Paralympic Games which starts on Wednesday at the Canada Games Centre.

‘’I 100 percent believe in our team,’’ said Ellis, 28, after Tuesday’s practice. ‘’I think our preparation will show. We are hard-working, determined and passionate about this sport. We can for sure come away with that berth for Tokyo and we’ll fight for it in every game.’’

Five countries will battle for that last ticket to Tokyo for the Paralympics set for August 25 to September 6.

Ukraine is the top-seeded team and ranked fourth in the world followed by the Canadians at number five. They are joined by world No. 13 Slovenia, No. 14 Finland and No. 17 Germany.

All 11 players for Canada competed at the Parapan American Games in Lima last year where they won the bronze medal. 

There are also seven returnees from the Rio Games in 2016 where Canada placed seventh in its Paralympic debut: Ellis, of White Rock, B.C., Jennifer Oakes of Calgary, Jolan Wong of Vermilion, Alta., Heidi Peters of Neerlandia, Alta., Amber Skyrpan of Wandering River, Alta., Katelyn Wright of Edmonton, and Felicia Voss-Shafiq of Burnaby, B.C.

The other four players are Julie Kozun of Melfort, Sask., Payden Olsen of Cardston, Alta., Annie Fergusson of Carleton Place, Ont., and Sarah Melenka of Vegreville, Alta.

‘’We learned a lot in Lima and we’ve really solidified our group,’’ said Ellis (pictured above). ‘’That makes a huge difference. We know we can fight that way again this week and beat the other four teams here.’’

Head coach Nicole Ban says the familiarity between her players gives them an opportunity to control games.

‘’We need to have that consistency to be able to be successful at a tournament like this,’’ she said. ‘’We need to control the ball and serve tough. Tactics and execution will be keys to our success.’’

Ukraine finished fourth in Rio after winning bronze in London 2012 and participated in both the 2008 and 2004 Paralympics. Slovenia also participated in the 2012, 2008 and 2004 Paralympics. 

Canada kicks off the tournament with two matches on Wednesday February 26. First up against Slovenia at 11 a.m. local time and then Germany at 8 p.m. On Thursday, Canada faces Ukraine at 6 p.m. before closing the round-robin against Finland on February 28 at 1 p.m.

The top four teams advance to the semifinals later on Friday evening. The second and third-place teams go head-to-head at 6:00 p.m. with the first and fourth-placed teams competing at 8 p.m. 

On February 29, the bronze medal match is at 1:00 p.m. and the gold medal game, with the Paralympic berth on the line, starts at 3:00 p.m.

Russia, United States, China, Italy, Brazil, Rwanda, and Japan are already qualified for the Games.

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